Husqvarna is a new motorcycle brand for India, making its debut with two 250 cc motorcycles, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 and the Husqvarna Vitpilen 250. The Swedish brand may be new for India, but Husqvarna has been around making motorcycles since 1903. And internationally, Husqvarna (or Husky as it's better known) has been well-established as a known name in the world of enduro and motocross motorcycling. In fact, through the 1950s, '60s. '70s and right up to the 21st century, Husqvarna has a long list of records at international motocross events.
Also Read: Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 Review
Watch the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 & Vitpilen 250 Review In Hindi:
Unfortunately, India doesn't get any Husqvarna enduro bikes, and what we get are the brand's first models, both 250s. Both of them are designed in Sweden, but made in India, for the world. With DNA and manufacturing originating at Bajaj Auto's plant in Pune, the Husky twins are unlike any other motorcycles you see on Indian roads today. To me, it's the Svartpilen 250 which comes across as a more well-rounded, more practical choice. But is that enough to make it get in the sales numbers, and establish a new motorcycle brand? We spend some time to get a sense of what these bikes offer, how they are, and if they are worth the ₹ 1.85 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi) price tag they command.
Cuts a dash!
The way a motorcycle looks is something that makes an immediate impression. And on that front the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 certainly scores big. The design is neat, and minimalistic, yet it's radical and avant-garde, giving the Svartpilen 250 a freshness that has not been seen on any India-made motorcycle for sometime now. Svartpilen, meaning 'Black Arrow' in Swedish, is in fact, a sort of homage to the original two-stroke single Husqvarna Silverpilen, a lightweight model from the 1950s and '60s, designed for racing, which gained widespread popularity. In fact, the Silverpilen has had a big contribution to firmly establishing the Husqvarna brand, both in Europe, and across the Atlantic.
The new Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 will have its task cut out for India, not just from a performance/price point of view, but also from the way it looks. In our opinion, it looks distinctive, has a completely 21st century ring to its design, yet retains an old-school charm, with the round LED headlight and brushed metal finish on the plastic bodywork. The Svartpilen's overall design definitely is a welcome departure from the sea of naked sport motorcycles in the segment, some with bright colours, and flashy decals that seem to be the norm these days.
The single-pod LCD instrument panel has hints of a retro touch, but is completely modern, with read-outs for speed, odometer, twin trip meters, a rev counter, clock, and even distance to empty. The dual-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) has a supermoto mode (with ABS switchable on the rear wheel), and a side stand indicator cuts off the engine if the rider accidently engages a gear when the stand is down.
Overall fit and finish is quite good, and with its distinctive modern classic design, the Svartpilen 250 strikes a textbook neo retro, urban scrambler pose. Yes, the 17-inch wheels even get tyres with deeper treads to complete the 'scrambler' look, but it's more of an urban runaround, than a real off-road dual-sport motorcycle. But where the Svartpilen 250 definitely scores is that it strikes the right balance between sporty, chic and rugged. So, full marks there, and it definitely makes a strong case as far as appearances are concerned. The only downside is the grab rail, which is downright ugly and takes away the neat lines of the bike.
Old wine, new bottle?
Husqvarna may be a Swedish motorcycle brand, but it's now owned by KTM. And India's Bajaj Auto owns 48 per cent of KTM, so by that definition, Husqvarna is also partly owned by Bajaj. So, the new 250s, along with future single-cylinder Huskies, are likely to be made in India, sharing platforms with KTM bikes already manufactured in India. The idea is to have common platforms which can be shared across brands, and models. In this case, both the Husqvarna 250s share the engine, chassis and basic cycle parts with the KTM 250 Duke. But there are some changes.
The trellis frame is the same, but the rear sub-frame is different to accommodate the slightly different tail section. Like the KTM, the Svartpilen 250 also employs 43 mm upside down front forks, but the internals of the fork is said to be different. The 248.8 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine has the exact same state of tune as well, putting out 29.5 bhp of power at 9,000 rpm, and 24 Nm of peak torque kicking in at 7,500 rpm. Dimensions are also the exact same as the KTM, but the 842 mm seat height makes the Huskies tall. With my 5 feet, 9 inches height, the seat height wasn't a problem, but riders with a couple of inches less height, could find the tall stance a spot of bother. The 166 kg kerb weight is 3 kg less than the KTM 250 Duke, but it isn't exactly lightweight either; but it's a good 14 kg less than the Bajaj Dominar 250, another product with more or less the same engine platform with a slightly different state of tune.
When push comes to shove
The riding position is comfortable, with the wide and upright handlebar falling into an easygoing stance, and offers good leverage, whether filtering through traffic, or out on the highway. The 250 cc engine has familiar performance; it's smooth, gives a sense of being reliable with solid performance, without any rattles or vibes even with the engine singing away at over 9,000 rpm. And yes, with the right dose of the right hand, the front wheel will eagerly get up to salute the sky, if that's the kind of juvenile antics one wants to indulge in. Triple digit speeds come easy without any sense of the engine being stressed out, and the Svartpilen 250 will go beyond 130 kmph given a long enough stretch of tarmac.
Refined performance, decent top speed and smooth throttle feel; all good qualities as far as performance goes. For young riders upgrading from smaller bikes, the Svartpilen 250 has offers enough and more, and even as a first bike, it offers manageable performance that will not overwhelm riders with less experience. Yes, it delivers on all counts, as far as performance goes, and as long as you keep the engine spinning at high revs. So long as you're in the right gear, there's decent pull to reach triple digits in a hurry, as well as to manage high speed overtaking manoeuvres. For experienced riders though, the 250 cc engine lacks that spark, that excitement, which can make all the difference between a great motorcycle, and a truly special one.
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 is priced at ₹ 1.85 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi). Internationally, the Husqvarna brand is positioned at a premium over KTM, but for India, the Husky 250s are actually priced lower than the KTM 250 Duke, which is priced at ₹ 2.09 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi). At that price, the Svartpilen 250 may seem very attractive, more so for the customer who walks into a Bajaj Pro-Biking showroom, where both the KTMs and the Huskies will share showroom space.
For others though, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 still will feel a little pricey, considering rivals in the 250 cc segment which have a definite price advantage, like the Suzuki Gixxer 250 ( ₹ 1.63 lakh), or the Yamaha FZ-25 ( ₹ 1.52 lakh). But even at ₹ 1.85 lakh, what the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 offers is an altogether different proposition; an European name with drop-dead gorgeous looks, a smooth and refined engine with more than adequate performance, and an urban scrambler design which many will find appealing.
The final word
Husqvarna will have its task cut out to create a niche in the world's largest motorcycle market. For off-road enthusiasts, there may be no enduro models on offer yet, but product strategy is determined by economics rather than meeting niche demand and small volumes. So, the prudent and tested format of rules will apply; that of platform sharing, and targeting the segments with higher growth. The Husky 250s will likely pave the way for the Svartpilen 401 and Vitpilen 401, based on the KTM 390 Duke, for India. While KTM will continue to cater to the 'sport' end of the market, Husqvarna will address the 'modern classic' or 'neo retro' part of the respective segments.
As one of the first products for a completely new brand for India, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 certainly makes for a likeable motorcycle. Yes, the Svartpilen 250 may not be lightning fast or offer dollops of exciting performance, but it's easy to ride, feels well built, and definitely turns heads on the street. In our books, those are more than enough qualities to make the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 worthy of consideration. In fact, we'll go out on a limb to say that the Svartpilen 250 has the potential to make it a real winner in the 250 cc segment, if the radical new design and somewhat tall-ish riding position finds wider acceptability.
(Photography: Kingshuk Dutta)
|Specifications||Husqvarna Svartpilen 250|
|Max Output||30 bhp at 9,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||24 Nm at 7,500 rpm|
|Ground Clearance||149 mm|
|Seat Height||842 mm|
|Kerb weight||166 kg|
|Front Suspension||43 mm WP USD|
|Front Brake||320 mm Disc (ABS)|
|Rear Brake||230 mm Disc (ABS)|
|Rear Suspension||WP Monoshock|
|Front Wheel Size||110/70-R17|
|Rear Wheel Size||150/60-R17|
|Fuel tank Capacity||9.5 litres|